Please welcome this guest post from Eric Borgard.
A rather somber fact: approximately 5 to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, according to the ASPCA. Taking a deeper dive and understand why exactly pets end up in shelters the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) conducted a yearlong study that produced some interesting and eye-opening findings.
For example, the top three reasons for dog relinquishment are moving, the landlord not allowing pets, and having too many animals in the household. Taking it even a step further, the researchers found that a whopping 96% percent of all dogs surrendered had no obedience training. That’s right, 96%.
Finding a permanent home for shelter dogs is no easy task. If looking through a business lens, in economic parlance the supply far outpaces the demand and, as heartbreaking as it is, many dogs are euthanized. Too many.
Now, I understand shelters are understaffed, underfunded, and overpopulated. I’m also grateful for volunteers who go above and beyond for completely selfless reasons and individuals who are nice enough to make donations. Thank you, I certainly appreciate your dedication. That said, a focus on behavior evaluation and basic training -I’m talking sit, stay, etc.- will certainly make the dogs more…marketable.
That’s right, marketable. A term that’s rarely used when it comes to dogs (for good reason). Now, at the end of the day I do understand it’s a dog and not a commodity, product, or service that’s being sold for profit. But I also believe in unearthing low hanging solutions, creative or not, through quantitative data.
With the vast majority of shelter dogs having no training, I see an opportunity. Getting back to the marketability, a well behaved dog that understands basic commands, is housetrained, and won’t do damage to the house is much more attractive to prospective buyers (individuals interested in adopting a shelter dog) and, accordingly, is much more likely to be given a permanent home than a dog sans any basic, formal training. With a lower cost of entrance these buyers/shoppers are much more likely to pull the trigger, making an important decision by saving the life of a dog.
What’s more, basic training in conjunction with a high level education campaign can help rebrand shelter dogs as a whole for what they truly are: unfortunate victims of circumstance. Sadly, the current ‘untrained animal that no one wants, must have something wrong with it’ connotation is alive and is in itself a barrier to entry itself for many. By changing the entire definition and concept of shelter dogs the net will be casted much wider, what with significantly more people inclined to rescue a dog.
There’s no question that shelters need help and all dogs warrant a permanent home. Shelter training is just one of many solutions to help make this a reality.
Eric Bogard is a writer for Pet Dreams, a designer of high quality, affordable dog beds. He is a fan and advocate of all things Pit Bulls, thoroughly enjoying the constant presence of his well trained, adopted clown in black and white clothing named Pepper.
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